Goodbye Columbus Day
Everyday children are taught that Christopher Columbus is a hero and that he discovered America, but they aren’t taught about what he did to Native Americans while discovering America and the real truth about whom he was and what he did. Although Columbus encouraged European exploration of the “New World”, he is not the hero that everyone believes him to be. He had very little knowledge of where he was and Native Americans were badly mistreated under his command.
It is evident that Columbus encouraged European exploration, but it is also evident that he did not in fact know where he was and that he had landed on an unknown part of the world. When Columbus conquered land for the Spanish and brought back goods, it inspired other nations to send out explorers such as, Cabot, an English explorer who sailed to the coast of Canada, Pizarro, a Spanish explorer who conquered land among the Pacific coast of South America, and Vespucci, an explorer for both Spain and Portugal who was the first to realize that this land across the ocean was a New World not Asia.
Columbus is responsible for the way the Americas are today and if he had not sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, the world might be completely different. When Columbus first sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, he thought that he had landed on Asia and three voyages later, he still thought that the island of Cuba was a part of Asia, South America was only an island, and that the coast of Central America was near the Ganges River. As indicated in Document 5, the painting shows Columbus landing on America as a celebration even though he thought he was in Asia.
Also, the Columbus Doors shows that the whole world acknowledges Columbus’ accomplishment but he wasn’t the one that declared that this land that he sailed to was in fact a “New World”. In 12 years of exploring the Americas, he never once realized that it was not Asia. Columbus thought he had made it to Asia, and called this area the Indies, and called its inhabitants Indians contributing to the long history of calling Native Americans, Indians. Celebrations on Columbus Day are based on myths.
According to Document 2, Columbus Day is insulting to Americans Natives whose ancestors have been on the Americas for thousands of years prior to the landing of Columbus. This document also states that a national holiday should be one that is nationally accepted by all Americans thus giving more reason to abolish the holiday. Children are taught that Columbus was a hero and that he discovered America making him seem courageous and magnificent (Document 6).
The need for a hero and symbol to give the United States a unique place in history and to break their ties with European nations, they looked to Columbus and instantly magnified him as a hero for the United States completely disregarding his extreme cruelty (Document 4). Columbus Day is a celebration of the start of one of the greatest waves of genocide in history which is not something that needs to be celebrated. When Columbus sailed to the islands of the Caribbean, his men enslaved many of the American Natives.
The Spanish monarch funded Columbus’ voyage if Columbus would repay the monarch in gold and spices from Asia. Columbus was unable to acquire gold and spices, so he seized over one thousand natives and crammed them onto his ships and sent them to Spain to be sold into slavery splitting up many families. Seized natives that were not shipped to Spain were forced to work on plantations and in mines. In only four years, through beating, raping, torturing, killing and hunting natives for sport, Columbus and his men managed to make the Taino peoples’ population decrease by one-third and in eventually in 50 years go extinct.
Immoral methods were used to kill natives such as: greyhounds being used as weapons to hunt natives killing one hundred people in one hour (Document 8). Columbus Day should not be celebrated because that indicates that forcing people to do labor and selling them as if they are crops or someone’s property is not wrong. It indicates that tearing children from their parents and wives from their husbands is okay when it’s not. It indicates that the United States as a nation supports slavery and agrees with what Columbus did which is not true because slavery in the United Stated was outlawed in 1865.
Therefore, Columbus Day should not be celebrated as a national holiday. Why is Columbus the only European explorer that we celebrate? Why not have an Amerigo Vespucci Day, when he’s who the Americas were named after and the one who realized that this land that Columbus sailed to was not Asia. Or why not have a John Cabot Day; he actually sailed to the North American mainland near Canada for England, the nation that founded the 13 colonies that soon became the United States of America. Both of these explorers are just as important as and maybe even more important to the United States than Christopher Columbus.